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Dangerous Compassions

do you have a moment for autism?

happy lady
gender

Hey, did you know autism manifests differently in different genders of people?  Yep, it does.  You know how I have social differences, sensory sensitivity that makes it hard for me to live, I get hyper-focused on stuff, and I have extreme semi-obscure interests, like I could talk about zines for hours straight?

Also I’m hella clumsy, like I don’t know where I am in space to the point that I can’t drive.  If you ever wondered why I don’t drive, I’m really bad at it.  I don’t know where my body ends and the rest of the world begins, and driving a car is like that too.

Also I’m weird about numbers–I memorize numbers on accident.  Since I was a kid, memorizing phone numbers on accident, and dates lodge in my head without me asking them to.  It’s funny.

Oh yeah, stimming too.  You’ve probably seen me do that.  “Why is that lady doing that?” asks all the kids of the world.

I did a quiz online, after reading about autism in women, and thinking about it for months.  Scored yes, top tier, likely autism.

smart

A year ago, I told someone, “The way I’m emoting usually has nothing to do with how I actually feel.”  It was a weird thing to tell someone.  Much of who I am, or my impulses–not appropriate.  So I will perform however, but it’s a lot of work.

My mom used to tell me, when we were out, “Act normal.”  I’m not making that up.  A tight-lipped, half-whispered command.  I was always trying to understand how to act normal and trying to do that, as a kid.  That’s pretty much my strategy still!

I was a smart kid and tried really, really hard to perform being social in a normal way.  It takes all my energy still, being out.  Certain things were expected of me, and I learned how to do them, at my expense.  Exhausting.  But I was trying to survive.

sensory

As for sensory stuff, I didn’t tell anybody for a long time.  I didn’t see the point.  But Ming noticed I wear my clothes inside out as much as possible.  Tags are intolerable, and even the seams bother me a lot.  Smells can drive me nuts.  Visual busy stuff with movement also.

When people bump me, like bump my chair in a restaurant, I have a huge reaction to that.  I wish I had never uttered the sentence, “If you bump me one more time, I’m going to scream,” but I have.  Sorry about that.

I have these noise-canceling headphones–they helped me yesterday.  It was Sunday, which is party day, around here.  There were two parties thrown by neighbors, with loud music.  Then someone started using a table saw.

I have PTSD about table saws.  That’s when I started to panic and went out to where Ming was, asking, “Please help me.  I am dying of sound.”  He helped me get the noise canceling headphones on.

Covid helps me in that I can stay home without guilt.  Not going to stores anymore improves my life–stores are overstimulating.  I’d use my spoons for the day, accompanying Ming to the grocery store.  It’s better that now I don’t do that.

So I have a lot of autism traits.  But I don’t avoid eye contact–I enjoy eye contact and touch, but I have a huge reaction to them.  They’re not a neutral part of life, for me.

diagnosis options

Autism could be a reason for a few things.  I don’t have a motivation to get diagnosed.  I’m already on Social Security for mental health stuff.  But damn all those bazillion doctors who never said anything about autism.  They’d note my flat affect, which always annoyed the hell out of me, but I didn’t know why.

I have a friend I love dearly who also seems to have autism and is also not diagnosed.  Autistic people are some of my favorite people.  Could be a cool club to be in, but I feel at the edge right now.  One foot in, one foot out.  Nothing’s really motivating me, to try to find a doctor who’s good at diagnosing it in women and won’t give me more medical trauma.

Also, I love myself unconditionally, and nothing a doctor says or doesn’t say will change that I’m 100% valid and ok with who I am. 

So I don’t need medical validation, though I know diagnoses can help people.  When I was diagnosed bipolar 1 with psychosis fourteen years ago, it helped me get a grip on my experiences.  It was like a key that helped me open a door I needed to pass through, but then I could drop the key.

why I’m telling you

I’m telling you this in case it could be helpful to you, to know this might be going on for me.  Also, if you think autism is how it looks in boys and men, maybe another example could be helpful.

I’m asking friends to love me about this, and I need to be believed about my own expertness, on my own life.  I live with myself all the time, and unless you’re Ming, you don’t.  A lot goes on no one sees but me and him.

The shoe fits, so I might wear it.  Or I might go barefoot some more, or wear flip flops.  Thanks for listening to my Head Talk.  Probably it’s in my whole body, not just my head, but I thought that might be funny.

By Laura-Marie

Good at listening to the noise until it makes sense.

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